Possible Lupus drug breakthrough sends Aurinia Pharmaceuticals up 77%

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Aurinia Pharmaceuticals

The past couple of weeks has been a wild ride for biotech stocks, more so than usual. Rumors of a number of possible biotech buyouts have helped stir many promising small-cap companies to new heights.

However, Thursday’s biggest market movers were all biotech companies that had major announcements to make regarding their drug candidates. The most promising of which came from Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AUPH), whose shares almost doubled after the company reported a breakthrough clinical study in treating Lupus.

Aurinia is developing a drug called voclosporin, which just met its primary endpoint for a phase 3 clinical study to see how the drug helps patients with a condition known as lupus nephritis, an autoimmune disease where the kidneys become inflamed as the body targets its own tissues. Specifically, the phase 3 trial saw Aurinia’s new drug show better results in kidney response, as well as meeting all of its secondary endpoints as well. Perhaps best of all, the drug was well tolerated by the patients in the study.

“This extraordinary pivotal data confirms voclosporin’s ability to achieve statistically significant improvements in clinically meaningful endpoints for this complex disease, with a comparable safety profile to the current standard of care,” said Neil Solomons,Aurinia’s Chief Medical Officer. “This data represents a significant advance for people living with LN, which can lead to irreversible kidney damage, eventual kidney failure and death.”

While this is a great piece of news, investors also need to note that a number of big-time pharmaceutical companies are also working on their own lupus treatments as well, which could bring major competition to this area. Biogen has its own lupus drug candidate, BIIB059, which showed some strong results in an earlier phase 2 study, while back in August, AstraZeneca announced that its own lupus treatment, anifrolumab, met its main endpoints in a separate phase 3 study as well.

All of these drugs could be major competitors to Aurinia, especially since Biogen and AstraZeneca are much bigger companies with significantly larger marketing budgets and deeper connections in the industry. As such, Aurinia could easily find itself in an uphill battle to successfully bring its lupus drug to the market.

Shares of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals shot up by as much as 125% over the course of the day in response to the news before settling to around 77.5%. While there seems to have been few to no noteworthy Wall Street analysts covering the stock a few months ago, current listings say that there are seven analysts covering the stock now, and all of them have “buy” ratings for Aurinia. Time will tell whether this $1.9 billion biotech company will be able to compete against its larger rivals.

Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Company Profile

Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc is a biopharmaceutical company. It provides products for patients suffering from serious diseases with a high unmet medical need. The firm is developing voclosporin, an investigational drug, for the treatment of lupus nephritis (LN), focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), and Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). Geographically, it derives maximum revenue from the United States followed by China. – Warrior Trading News

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